Dunfermline Athletic

Manager reflects on 2019-2020

Tuesday, 23rd Jun 2020

Stevie Crawford discusses the 2019-2020 Season

“The League Cup campaign was a highlight. You have got to win whatever game of football that is in front of you. Getting off to the flyer against St Mirren - going away from home, scoring three goals - that is something that we improved on from the previous season.”

Stevie Crawford feels that was a move on from his initial spell in the manager’s post when it seemed as though they were trying to score the first goal and then trying to hang on.

“I went on record during the summer saying that I was wanting to try and be a more attractive team, capable of scoring goals and creating chances. That is something that I think we did over the season and that was evident in the St Mirren game.

“The actual run in the League Cup gave us the opportunity to then go to Celtic Park and on the day I know we played a different type, we gave Celtic the respect that they were due but I thought we were solid in our defensive display. We were resilient and it was very much a team effort.

“When Tom Beadling managed to score from Andy Ryan’s cut back the feeling that day seeing Tom and the players running towards the Dunfermline supporters and what it meant was something that I want to try and replicate going into next season.”

Stevie described the performance in the Championship opener at home to Dundee as “fantastic”.

“We took the game to them and in fact all the games against Dundee were attractive, albeit I know we ended up losing the game at Dens 4-3 but from 15 minutes into that game up until half time and just after half time we were very poor.

“A big game that stood out was against Partick Thistle because in the first quarter we didn’t get the points on the board that I thought some of our play merited. We managed to go to Partick and get a victory there. After the Inverness game we had been sitting bottom of the league so winning 3-0 at Partick was a big day for us and a big boost.

“The 3-2 game against Ayr United one was another big one. Lee Ashcroft’s goal stood out that day and Andy Ryan’s winner was important because we hadn’t won at home for a number of games. That put that one to bed.

“We went on a run where we won five in six games in the second quarter that propelled us up into third place. That was a decent run with Kevin Nisbet’s four goals against Partick Thistle sticking out.

“For as much as we went that run of winning five out of six, losing five in a row in the third quarter hampered us. How we lost the Alloa game 3-1, I still look back at it and just don’t get it. Sometimes you get a bogey team but Alloa seem to be a team that we struggle against result wise. Even losing 2-1 to them through at Alloa was a hard one to swallow. That is something that we can try and improve on.

“More recently in beating Dundee United 2-0, I thought that the boys were terrific. Kevin scored a great goal from a Kyle Turner pass and big Jonathan (Afolabi) scored from a Dom Thomas cross. I thought the supporters in these games also helped us.”

There were a number of games where the team was scoring goals, in fact they scored more goals in 28 games that they did in the entire previous campaign. Undoubtedly the Scottish Cup defeat at Stranraer was the low point.

“It was a hard one to take because I knew that there are certain games in the Championship that you face away from home that are difficult places to go to but I think we improved. Maybe not in glittering performances but from teams we had visited earlier in the season to then going to play them the second time, the different way we went about it let us take something from the games.

“Now the Stranraer game hurt because we knew that it was going to be a difficult one, we knew the pitch was not going to be great at the time in the season that we were going down there. What I never did in the Stranraer game, and it is always easy in hindsight when you get beat, we changed it at Partick at half time in the final game, and went 3-5-2 because we just felt that there was something just not quite right.

“You do learn from the Stranraer game. There I thought about doing it, going three at the back and giving us five across the middle of the park and still give us the threat with the two upfront. The reason I did not do it at Stranraer was because we hadn’t worked on it.

“The feeling at Stranraer was that we weren’t going to lose the game, that is how I genuinely felt. It was a penalty kick that we lost the tie to but at the same time we were not creating enough going forward. We should have made that brave decision and if we had lost the game then you have to face the music.”

The draw with Thistle in what turned out to be the final match of the 2019-2020 season was a match in which Ian McCall’s side were desperately seeking a result. We now know that had Thistle won the match they would not have been relegated. They had put in a great first half performance but Stevie responded:-

“At Partick I had the feeling that night, along with Greg because Jason was ill and he missed the game, that I had to make a positive change. I didn’t think that we were getting an absolute doing from Partick but I thought that there was a positive change in the second half.

“The boys responded, we went ahead and then unfortunately lost the goal which over the course of the season we could pinpoint a number of decisions that went against us but I am not blaming that for us finishing sixth.”

Stevie is very clear that no coach or player should be happy to finish sixth and he shares his chairman’s desires to take Dunfermline Athletic to the top league, one he himself played in over nine different seasons while at Hibs, Dunfermline, Aberdeen and Dundee United.

“It is a process of putting foundations down that are going to make Dunfermline right for the future. If I am going to try and bring players while still being happy with sixth place, as a player would I have wanted to come and sign at Dunfermline, no chance!

“The supporters wouldn’t settle for that and I’m aware of that so I want to push my players. I feel that there were points dropped in games last season. I am not pointing a finger at individuals, some of it was through lack of experience and game knowledge but there were other things there like I have got to take decisions and hold my hands up as a manager that there were things that I could have done better as well. That is something that I will be trying to better next year.”

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